pumpkin seed pesto
pumpkin seed pesto

Pumpkin Seed Pesto with Kale and Spinach

The secret to any good pesto is the ratio. This nut free variation packs a punch with pumpkin seeds and tons of leafy kale and spinach. It's absolutely delectable and adds a burst of flavor to steak, pasta, soup, beans, or flatbread.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes
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Recipe Rundown

pumpkin seed pesto made of kale, spinach, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and Pecorino Romano

If you mix olive oil, vinegar, herbs, and cheese – you get pesto. This version is especially green and delicious with pumpkin seeds, baby kale and spinach.

Basil pesto is my go-to for Italian food, but this pumpkin seed pesto is perfect for topping pizza, grilled summer flatbread, or adding a small dollop to winter stews or beans. No exaggeration, it’s my favorite pesto recipe.

Why This Recipe Works:

  • Pumpkin seeds and Pecorino Romano bind this sauce together for a creamy consistency – adding depth and flavor.
  • Pecorino Romano gives a sharp and intense umami taste, making a little bit go a long way to season anything you put it on.
  • It’s loaded with leafy greens – spinach and kale make this sauce healthy and vibrant.
  • Blending is convenient and if you just blend for a few seconds, the sauce has quite a bit of texture.
  • With a salty, tangy profile, this sauce is a fantastic way to liven up a dish. You can add it to pasta or use it like a seasoning for a bean burrito.


Why does pesto have nuts? Nuts act as a binder for oil and vinegar, so in this recipe, pumpkin seeds take the place of nuts – making this a nut free pesto.

Can pesto be frozen? Yes, but when you freeze it, it breaks down the cell walls of the greens. This impacts the texture, color, and taste.

Pesto without cheese: You can easily make this recipe vegan by omitting the cheese. You need to replace it with something fermented, like chickpea miso.

What’s this pumpkin seed pesto good for? Oh the possibilities! You can add a dollop to grilled steak, flatbread pizza, or mix a few spoonfuls into pasta or soup.

Blending pesto vs. food processor: A food processor results in a perfect consistency for pesto and you can reduce this recipe by 1/2. The blender results in a perfect texture too by stopping short. You want to pulse a bit at a time to combine and maintain some texture. I would not recommend reducing the recipe if blending – the blades must be covered fully.

How to Make This Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Add raw pumpkin seeds, garlic cloves, olive oil, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt, chopped Pecorino Romano, and leafy greens (baby kale and spinach mix).

making pesto in the blender

Blend on high for a few seconds at a time for creamy consistency that still has some texture.

blended pesto sauce

Use the pesto right away for the best flavor and color. Leftover pesto can be refrigerated and used within 1 week.

pesto sauce in a bowl

Recipes to try with this pesto

All over this husk on grilled corn! With these crispy, juicy chicken thighshomemade ricotta gnocchi or these meaty grilled trumpet mushrooms.

*Did you make this recipe? Please rate and comment below!

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

The secret to any good pesto is the ratio. This nut free variation packs a punch with pumpkin seeds and tons of leafy kale and spinach. It's absolutely delectable and adds a burst of flavor to steak, pasta, soup, beans, or flatbread.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten free, kale, nut free, pesto, pumpkin seed, spinach, vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 20 servings
Calories: 77kcal
Author: Chef Sara Furcini


  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 5 oz baby spinach and kale mix
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 oz Pecorino Romano diced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt


  • Add all pesto ingredients to a blender. Pulse a few times on high just until creamy but with a little bit of texture. Pesto keeps for up to 1 week in the fridge.


Pecorino Romano

A hard cheese with a stronger, funkier flavor than Parmesan cheese. You can use either one in this recipe.

Leafy Greens

You can use any leafy greens to make pesto. I used a baby kale and spinach mix, but you could use only spinach or only kale. Just be sure to use the younger varieties to avoid too much fiber.

Make Ahead

You can make this pesto ahead and store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. You can freeze the pesto too, but it will affect the texture somewhat.

Vegan Pesto

You can replace the cheese in this recipe for 1 Tablespoon of chickpea miso. Miso is a great cheese substitute because it adds a creamy texture and is fermented like cheese.


Calories: 77kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 139mg | Potassium: 67mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 744IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg

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